Nov 22 – Manchester United said it was beginning a process of exploring strategic alternatives, including new investment or a potential sale, 17 years after the American Glazer family bought the English Premier League football club .
The Glazer family are working with financial advisers on the process, which could lead to a partial sale of the Old Trafford club or investments including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, the club said in a statement.
Manchester United fans have been clamoring for a change of ownership and the Glazers have come under intense criticism as the side have gone five years without winning a trophy. The last silverware they won was the Europa League and the League Cup in 2017.
“As we seek to continue to build on the club’s history of success, the board has authorized a thorough assessment of strategic alternatives,” Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, United’s executive co-chairmen and directors, said in the statement. communicated.
“We will assess all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximize the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future,” the statement read.
In August, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe expressed interest in buying United, Reuters reported. At the time, Elon Musk also joked about the plan to buy the club.
Wealthy Asian tycoons, particularly those from China, have bought European teams in recent years, including Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers and Italy’s Inter Milan.
However, football clubs have since been viewed as unfavorable assets by China and any major overseas purchases seem unlikely at this time, said Mark Dreyer, Beijing-based author of “Sporting Superpower”, a book on China’s sporting ambitions.
“It’s almost impossible to see how any China-related entity could justify a purchase of this magnitude in the current climate,” he said. “…with China only just coming to grips with the realities of COVID-19, which is making the whole economic environment all the more uncertain, no state agency would endorse this type of deal. “
The owners are under pressure, with United sitting fifth in the Premier League halfway through the season, which has been suspended due to the ongoing Qatar World Cup.
Manchester United shares jumped 20% after Sky News first reported on the sale process, giving the club a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.
The company was worth $2.5 billion as of the close of U.S. markets on Tuesday. At its peak as a public company, it had a market capitalization of $4.3 billion in 2018.
Also on Tuesday, the club said star striker Cristiano Ronaldo would leave with immediate effect, marking a bitter end to the Portuguese captain’s second stint at Old Trafford after he said he felt betrayed by the club.
The Glazers bought the club for 790 million pounds ($939.07 million) in 2005 in a highly leveraged deal which has been criticized for burdening the club with debt.
United has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, when the Glazers sold 10% of their stake through the listing and have sold more shares since.